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Hi, just looking for advice on how to phase out our pup's crate? Our fear is taking away his 'safe place' and upsetting him. But in saying that, he doesn't use it much anymore.
Some info that may or may not be relevant:
We didn't technically follow any of the typical 'crate training' rules and we didn't use it extensively at all. It's main use was to put his bed in and for him to have a safe place at night while we trained him to to sleep in another room/throughout the night. Occasionally used it for time outs when he was over-stimulated. He took to the crate straight away and happily goes in and out of his own accord or if you ask him to, but he doesn't use it that much really. We have now transitioned to giving him the run of the house at night, and he has chosen the guest bed as his preferred sleeping place. He stays there all night (8 hours). We're really happy with this behaviour and the transition only took 5 days and we've now had 2 weeks of a consistent habit.
We still have the crate and his dog bed set up in the living room. Will taking the crate away and just leaving the dog bed there confuse him or disrupt him? I'm not sure if he still goes in there because it's nice and dark in the evening when we have the lights on or if it's just because he has his bed in there. His main lounging spot is the couch and he also has a daybed in the kitchen and a blanket we put in front of a window that gets the afternoon sun.
If we just take the crate away will he be upset? Is the cave-like atmosphere too 'safe' and an open bed won't be as comfortable? It doesn't seem like something you can do slowly, because it's either there or it isn't. We don't use the crate to contain him anymore, it's a bit of an eyesore and we just don't feel like he needs it, but I also don't want to take away his safe place. Also, even though we have the one for giant breeds, and our pups only large breed (and on the small side), it still seems a bit small.
Pup is mix large breed, 7 months old, we haven't seen any teenage behaviours yet, but we're sure it's coming.
TIA for your help, it's really appreciated.
TL/DR: What's the best way to phase out the crate? Is there a best way to do this or do you just take it away?
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